Yesterday we started to discuss one of the latest outrageous campus episodes, this one at hippie-dippy Evergreen State College in Oregon. Bret Weinstein – a bio prof at Evergreen who describes himself as a leftist who supported Bernie Sanders’s candidacy for presidency – ended up in the crosshairs of enraged students for standing up to a demand that white students and faculty members stay off campus on a so-called “Day of Absence.” In Weinstein’s view, their demand represented “a show of force and an act of oppression” – language one might expect a platoon of spoiled, angry contemporary college kids, marinated in the ideology of oppression and power, to understand.
But nope. Weinstein’s refusal to be banished from campus for his skin color evoked a chorus of rage. In an article on the campaign against him, Inside Higher Ed quoted a Facebook posting in which one student called the prof out for “putting his job security ahead of the safety of the students (particularly those who are visibly of color, queer, trans, nonbinary, disabled, etc.) on our campus. And when I say safety, I am not referring to someone’s feelings getting hurt. I’m referring to the very real, very close neo-Nazi/white supremacist/alt-right/whatever-you-wanna-call-white-people-who-think-non-white-people-should-die presence in the Pacific Northwest.”
The local chief of police counseled Weinstein to stay off campus – not to comply with the student demands, but for his own safety. He did so. But this doesn’t mean he didn’t stand up to his tormenters. On May 26, Weinstein went on Tucker Carlson’s program on Fox News. Carlson introduced the interview by showing a video in which a group of rude, bullying, foul-mouthed student brats attempted to intimidate Weinstein by screaming hysterically about “white privilege,” calling him “useless,” and ordering him to “get the [expletive] out.”
Asked by Carlson to contextualize the video, Weinstein explained: “They imagine that I am racist and that I am teaching racism in the classroom.” He further recalled that after the encounter shown in the video, the police turned up – whereupon the students moved on to the office of Evergreen’s president, George Bridges, whom they “corralled” and from whom they “extracted” certain “concessions” including a promise that he, Bridges, would meet with them later in the day to discuss their so-called grievances.
“Why is he allowing a mob to threaten one of his professors?” Carlson asked about Bridges. Weinstein said it was worse than that: “Dr. Bridges is allowing this mob to effectively control the campus.” The mob had presented Bridges with a set of demands, and had told him that if the demands were not met in full “there would be violence.” Bridges, instead of standing up to the mob, had ordered the campus police to “stand down.” While wanting to restore order on campus, then, the campus police had been “hobbled” by Bridges’s insistence that they do nothing and had, in effect, been “barricaded in the campus police station” for the past several days.
Bridges later announced that he would go along with all of the student demands – of which there were many. He began a public statement by informing his audience, in accordance with the expectations of many college-based gender activists nowadays, of where exactly he falls on the supposedly broad and complex gender-pronoun spectrum: “I’m George Bridges, I use he/him pronouns,” he said. Pathetic.